Uganda's tax body Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) and Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), a state owned agency charged with wildlife protection, have formed a joint committee aimed at stopping the increasing illegal trade in ivory, local media said Monday.
The world's largest living land animal was poached extensively for its ivory. [File photo]
James Kisaale, URA's assistant commissioner for enforcement was quoted by the Daily Monitor saying cases of smuggling Ivory were rampant and needed urgent intervention.
He was speaking at a function where URA was handing over impounded ivory worth 1.6 billion shillings (over 665,000 U.S. dollars) to UWA.
At least 176 pieces of ivory weighing 162 kg, 189 pieces of hippopotamus teeth weighing 37 kg and a number of monitor lizards' skins whose number could not be ascertained were recovered from Katuna, Pakwach, Mutukula and Entebbe International Airport in the last one month, the report said.
This means that 16 elephants, 20 hippopotamus and a number of lizards were killed in the same period.
"Although wildlife is a renewable resource, it has to be jealously guarded if Uganda is to maintain its top spot, which attracts foreign exchange from tourists and the best way of doing this is to protect wildlife," Vincent Opyene, UWA Senior Warden, was quoted as saying.
Under the new arrangement between URA and UWA, URA laws under the East African Management Act, will be used to prosecute the culprits of illegal trade in animal products, the report said. The culprits will get a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a
fine of 235 million shillings (98,000 dollars) or 50 percent of the value of the goods, under the Smuggling Act.
Uganda is a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, an agreement between governments, whose aim is to ensure that trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival, the report said.